SB 691 – Early Screening for Risk of Dyslexia – SUPPORT

March 17, 2023

The Honorable Josh Newman
Chair, Senate Committee on Education
1021 O Street, Suite 6740
Sacramento, CA 95814
RE: SB 691 (Portantino) – Early Screening for Risk of Dyslexia – SUPPORT

Dear Chair Newman:
I write on behalf of SF Parent Coalition in strong support of SB 691, which would help eliminate
inequities of opportunity by requiring all local educational agencies (LEAs) to screen every student in kindergarten, first, and second grade for risk of dyslexia.

Dyslexia is the most common learning disability, and some estimate over 15% of the general population is dyslexic. Students with dyslexia, those at risk of dyslexia, and other struggling readers can, nevertheless, become successful readers. Research from multiple scientific studies is clear: early identification and intervention with evidence-based literacy instructional strategies and materials can improve literacy outcomes for students on the dyslexia spectrum. SB 691 requires that early identification and intervention take place, so it is a meaningful step toward unlocking the power of literacy in every child.

Many children on the dyslexia spectrum struggle every day with reading at grade level because they are not identified early and don’t get the proper intervention. This can have serious consequences. The repeated failure these readers often experience before receiving intervention can contribute to anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. Students with dyslexia are also less likely to graduate high school and attend college, and even experience higher rates of incarceration. In some prisons today, nearly 80% of the inmates are illiterate, and almost one-half are on the dyslexia spectrum. SB 691 guarantees early screening for all students—something already required in forty other states— and also requires LEAs to provide evidence-based literacy instruction, progress monitoring, and early intervention in the regular general education classroom. Finally, SB 691 explicitly requires that the screening instruments and process are appropriate for California’s diverse student population, particularly our English Learners.

Successful reading is critical to learning and life outcomes and opens countless doors. With early and universal screening for risk of dyslexia, California can help bring that success within reach for many more children.

We respectfully urge your yes vote on SB 691.

Please do not hesitate to contact me directly if you have any questions.

Meredith W. Dodson
Co-Founder and Executive Director
SF Parent Coalition

Cc: The Honorable Anthony J. Portantino, California State Senator, 25th District
The Honorable Members of the Senate Committee on Education